Politicians should treat voters as customers

8th Jun 2017

As voters head to the polls, the chief executive of The Institute of Customer Service, Jo Causon, has recommended that politicians replicate a business approach – and treat their voters more like customers.

Causon has drawn parallels between the world of business and politics, and says evolving customer expectations will be reflected in this election.

She notes that the relationship between politicians and voters mirrors that of an organisation and its customers – and if they promise something in their manifesto, they should deliver it. “When someone buys a product or service they have every right to expect a professional service, timely delivery and quality goods. The same goes for politics,” she says.

Causon adds that, just as when a business plan fails to deliver, when a manifesto doesn’t deliver – there are necessary consequences. “Shareholders expect dividends, stakeholders expect results and if they are not forthcoming, leadership changes often follow.  The voting public is no different.  To them, a manifesto is the same thing as a business plan, or at least it should be.  An election is the same as an AGM. If pledges aren’t met, voters will seek new leadership.”

Research from The Institute suggests customers expect clear purpose and vision, leadership, collaboration, better use of data and transparency from the public sector. 

With this in mind, Causon recommends that political parties would do well to remember the similarity of customer and voter expectations. "Some may question, whether it is realistic to aspire to a vision of better customer service in the political arena.  I say that commitment to improved customer service is not just about functional perfunctory delivery of services,” she explains. 

"It is much more about replicating a ‘business approach’ and embodying a strategic and long term focus underpinning the public sector’s mission and the very reason many people enter politics in the first place. Put this together and it means voters are looking for credibility and trust.  If they can’t find it in the business world, they vote with their feet and shop elsewhere.  Today, we’ll find out if, in the political world, they’ll vote at all."

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